Category: General (Uncategorized)

Salvadoran MIT Janitor Taken Into Custody Days Before His Son was Born

Francisco Rodriguez-Guardado, a Salvadoran janitor at MIT, was taken into custody by federal immigration officials for deportation a few days before his first son was born.  “They tell me he has my eyes,” Rodriguez-Guardado says.

Supporters of Rodriguez Guardado include U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, faculty at MIT, and his labor union. The ACLU has filed briefs in support of Rodriguez-Guardado. He does not have a criminal record, volunteers at his church, and runs his own carpet cleaning business.

Arrests of non-criminal undocumented immigrants has increased 145 percent from the first half of last year.

Rodriguez-Guardado entered the U.S. undocumented in 2006, fleeing El Salvador after a work colleague had been murdered by a gang member.  Rodriguez-Guardado was a technician at an engineering firm and owned a car wash in San Salvador.

In 2009, Rodriguez-Guardado was denied asylum in 2009 and had an appeal rejected in 2011.  He was ordered in June by ICE officials to make travel arrangements back to El Salvador.

On July 13, he was arrested because, according to ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer, the plane ticket he booked was not “timely.  Rodriguez-Guardado had booked the plane ticket for after his son’s expected birth date.

Rodriguez-Guardado has credited his Christian faith with preparing him to accept what comes next.  He is in an inmate prayer group and frequently reads his Bible.  “We follow what God wants for us,” he says.  “If they want us to move from here, it’s because there is something better for us someplace else.”

If Rodriguez-Guardado is not allowed to stay in the United States, he is considering trying to move to Canada or Costa Rica rather than going back to El Salvador.  He says, “Believe me…if El Salvador was a safe and peaceful country, I would have never thought of coming here.”

For more information, click here.

USCIS to Renew Premium Processing for FY 2018 H1B Visas

 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Monday that it would resume premium processing for all H1B visa petitions covered by the Fiscal Year year (FY) 2018 cap. Congress limits the number of H1B visas each year to 65,000 for all U.S. employers, except for institutions of higher learning and affiliated research facilities.  USCIS will also now accept requests for premium processing for the 20,000 additional H1B visas available to individuals who have a masters’ or higher degree from an American college or university.

Premium processing currently costs $1,225.  Employers who use premium processing are promised to have a decision for the I-129 Petition for an Alien Worker within 15 working days.  If the 15- calendar day processing time is not met, the agency promises to refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with the “faster” processing of the application.

Earlier this year, USCIS suspended the use of the premium processing program immediately before most employers filed their H1Bs before the April 1, 2018 deadline.  This has led to long delays in the processing of this year’s cap-subject H1Bs.

H1B visas are limited to individuals who work in specialty occupations.  These visas are not available for every job in America, but only a limited category of specialty jobs such as accountant, software developer, physician, etc.

Because the federal fiscal year starts on October 1 each year, the start date of the approved H1B visas is typically October 1 and they last approximately three years.  Federal law allows employers to file six months early, i.e., April 1.

Since Congress has limited the number of available H1B visas every year to 65,000, plus the additional 20,000 for individuals with higher degrees, USCIS typically conducts a lottery each year.  Some applications are accepted, many are not.

Those applications which were not selected have already been returned.  USCIS continues to adjudicate many of the visa applications submitted back on April 1st.  Employers who have H1B applications that remain undecided will have to figure out if it makes sense for them to pay for premium processing at this late date.

One final note: H1B premium processing remains unavailable for extensions of the H1B visa, as well as “transfers” for H1B employees from one job to another.

When should I consider withdrawing my immigration case at USCIS?

Every now and then, people come to see us at the office, and they have a case that is completely messed up. These are usually cases that they have filed pro se, which means they filed them without an attorney, and their case has gotten a bit more complicated, and we have to start considering the option of withdrawing a case.

Now, you never really want to withdraw a case because obviously you’ve paid your filing fees, and when you withdraw the case, you do lose your filing fees. You also might have a lot of time invested in the processing of your case, and you might’ve done a lot of work to get it as far as you did, but in certain circumstances, it is a really good idea to go ahead and withdraw the case.

What are some examples of this? Well, one time somebody came to see us, and after he had filed his citizenship application, he had gotten arrested, and his criminal charges were pending. It looked like we were not going to be able to get the criminal case disposed of before the citizenship interview, so we went ahead and withdrew the case.

We had another situation where a young couple came to see us, and they had gotten their case so complicated, and there were so many bad facts in the case that we decided to withdraw that case as well, and the clients agreed.

What happened in that situation is that the couple had been fighting off and on over time, and there was a family member who was not happy about the marriage. That family member had gone down to immigration and reported them as having these marital problems, and we were worried that if we went ahead with the interview with everything just as it was, it’d really put us in a bad light, and the case would probably be denied because there are things worse than a denial because you can be caught with a fraud or a misrepresentation allegation, and that’s even worse than just having your case denied.
It’s relatively easy to withdraw a case. In most situations, USCIS is glad to close the file and move on to the next case. All you have to do is send a letter with your case numbers on there and reference the fact that you want to withdraw the case. They’re generally pretty willing to do that. They’ll do it all the way up until the interview. What you don’t want to do is make them do all this extra work and then try to withdraw it.

Now, USCIS is not required to allow you to withdraw the case. We have had a few situations where we tried to withdraw a case, and immigration service did not allow us to do that, so it’s a good idea if you’re thinking about withdrawing the case or if you think that there’s something wrong with your case that you want to make sure that you go talk to a competent immigration attorney. You want to see a good immigration lawyer and make sure that everything gets squared away properly and that you’re getting good advice as to whether or not you want to withdraw the case.

It’s not something you’re going to do in every case, but it is an option, and sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. That’s an old expression, and what it means is that sometimes you want to be able to live and fight another day. You want to have another chance, and so in a lot of these cases that we’ve withdrawn, we’ve re-prepared them, we’ve gone over the facts and done things a little bit differently than the people did without an attorney, and we’ve been able to get those cases approved.

If you have any questions about your case or if you’re wondering, “Is there something wrong about my case that would make me want to withdraw it,” feel free to give us a call.

The other thing that this points out is the fact that you really want to have a good representation from the beginning because a lot of these mistakes were things that were done by the couple because they didn’t have an attorney, so this whole problem of having to potentially withdraw a case highlights the fact that it’s really important to have good immigration counsel right from the beginning.

If you have any questions, like I said, give us a call, 314-961-8200, or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com.

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What’s Going to Happen to the Refugees?

President Trump and his team of anti-immigrant crusaders have made slowing down the entry of refugees into the United States one of their major reforms to our immigration system.

When the President announced his travel ban from 7 (and later 6) predominantly Muslim countries, he also announced a temporary halting of all refugee processing.

These measures obtained a significant amount of press coverage.

Lost in all of that coverage, however, was a more subtle change to the refugee process.

Legislation passed in 1980 requires the President and the administration to set the number of refugees that should be allowed into the United States each year.

For quite some time, that number has hovered between 100,000 and 110,000.

President Trump sought to cut that number in half.  Recent reports seem to indicate that the number could fall even lower than 50,000.

So there is a lot of activity surrounding the refugee question.  The President’s team argues that it is cheaper to assist refugees while they remain overseas and that there is no real reason to allow the people into the U.S.

Refugee advocates point to our nation’s long history of helping displaced people from around the globe to build a new life in the U.S.  Another argument is that it is simply a humane thing to do.

Some of these issues appear headed for a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently halted the President’s ban on refugees from entering the U.S.

However, this week, the Supreme Court stayed that decision and allowed the refugee ban to stand.

The ban is set to expire in about 6 weeks.  The Trump Administration has not made clear whether it will extend the ban, make it permanent or discontinue it.  Signs point to a more permanent situation.

For this reason, the Supreme Court will take up the issue of the President’s authority to halt refugee processing under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

In the meantime, people who have lost everything due to war and natural disasters around the world are being prevented from entering the greatest country on Earth.

Our United States.

 

 

Politics Sends DACA Bill to the Back of the Line

Republican and Democratic members of Congress responded quickly to President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on March 5, 2018.

Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Durbin held a press conference to announced their re-introduction of legislation intended to protect the so-called DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. without inspection as children and who have lived here ever since.

But a series of events has pushed immigration reform for DREAMers to the bottom of the legislative pile.

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and now Irma has landed in Florida, causing massive damage and requiring significant federal resources.

Members of Congress are now scrambling to obtain needed federal benefits for their respective districts and disaster relief is first and foremost on legislators minds.

The President and members of the Republican leadership in the Capitol are looking for tax reform.

Finally, some member of the President’s own party are angry that he has joined Democrats on the complicated issue of the debt ceiling.

The result: little appetite for DREAMer legislation and a number of other topics calling for legislators’ attention.

According to a recent piece by the McClatchy wire service, immigration is low on the list of most legislators priority list:

Conservative Republicans are demanding that significant border security measures are included in any proposal that deals with Dreamers, and House Speaker Paul Ryan is well aware that angry conservatives conspired to oust his predecessor, John Boehner, over immigration.

In addition, there is the general problem that Democrats and Republicans do not agree on the best path forward for immigration.  Republicans want increased border security, Democrats want to still push for comprehensive immigration reform.  It is unclear as to whether the parties will reach consensus on the issue, especially in light of the six month window provided by the President.

What is Extreme Vetting

What is extreme vetting and how is it going to affect my immigration case?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

With the election of President Donald Trump, he threw around the phrase “extreme vetting” in the immigration context. We’ve had a lot of clients ask us what does extreme vetting mean and how is it going to impact my case? We thought we’d shoot this short video to discuss it.

One thing you need to know about the immigration process, I think we can all agree it takes a very long time, that when you’re dealing with agencies like U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of State, Customs and Border Patrol, that there are a lot of steps for the process and no one would ever accuse the Federal Government of moving quickly on immigration cases. This is cases that take place within the United States, like adjustment of status or citizenship and also involves cases overseas where a U.S. citizen or an employer is trying to bring over a foreign national to come to the United States and have to go through the State Department and the Embassy. No one would ever say that these cases go by lickety-split, in fact, they take a very long time. The reason that they take a very is because the government is already doing an extreme amount of vetting.

Just in the last five years, we’ve seen forms balloon in size. For instance, the application to adjust status used to be six pages long. It is currently 20 pages long and growing. The same for citizenship, citizenship used to be just a few pages long, and now it is many, many pages. In the spouse visa context, we use an I-130. That form used to be two pages and now it is not two pages, but it’s much longer. It actually involves two different forms, one for the spouse, who is a U.S. citizen and one for the overseas spouse. The federal government knows how to make things grow and especially when it comes to forms and making things more complex.

Add to all this, President Trump claiming that he wanted to increase vetting to cause extreme vetting to occur when someone applies for an immigration benefit. We’ve already seen the results of this as these forms are slowly implemented. Things are slowing down at the Immigration Service. Things are slowing down at the State Department. We have cases that use to take four or five months that now take eight or nine months and they’re really being nitpicky and they’re coming up with ways to slow things down. We think that the Trump Administration has brought in experts in Immigration Law and they’ve come up in ways that are pretty devious and pretty creative to really make it harder for you to bring your loved one to the Untied States, to keep your loved one in the United States, to help them get lawful status, to help them get citizenship and we’re really seeing the consequences of this with the delays.

The other thing is that when you have an agency that’s own heightened alert like this and that wants to make things harder for everybody that we’re really seeing that denials are increasing, frustration is increasing. We’re getting a lot of people who come to see us having filed for themselves and they screwed up their case. We do what we can to help them, but this is a new era. The Trump Administration has brought a new sense of scrutiny to the Immigration Service with a harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. The people that work at the Immigration Office seem to have slowed things down and we’re really seeing clients that are frustrated.

If you need help with this, if you’re wondering how is extreme vetting going to hurt my case or slow down my case? How could I do things to make things better, how can I increase the chances of success? How can I make sure that I do everything possible to speed my case along? You’re probably going to need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. You’re probably going to need help. It’s a new day. It’s a new time. There’s a new President and he has made immigration one of his focus issues. He has decided to have his Administration do what they can to slow things down, especially for people from particular countries, from the Middle East, from predominantly Muslim countries. These cases are going to take a lot longer, a lot harder.

We see this too in the asylum context, that it’s going to be a lot harder and a lot longer to get asylum. The Immigration Courts are backlogged, everything’s slowing down and that is by design. The Trump Administration wants to slow down immigration to the United States. They want to make it harder for people to come here and stay here. We’ll do what we can to fight for you to help you, to help smooth line the process, to help you not have to worry so much.

We hope you liked this video. Be sure to give us a call if you need some help. (314) 961-8200 or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. If you liked this video, be sure to click “Like” below to share it with your friends and to subscribe to our YouTube and Facebook channels, so that you get updated whenever we shoot a video like this.

Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

ICE’s Planned Mass Roundup Delayed Due to Hurricanes

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, like every government agency, is ruled by numbers. The supervisors have a certain number of immigrant arrests that they want to deport each fiscal year.The annual fiscal year for the federal government ends on September 30th every year. This means that if ICE is going to meet its detainee quota for the year, it is going to have to detain greater numbers of people in the next few weeks.Enter Operation MEGA.According to NBC News, ICE had the largest immigration raid ever planned for the end of September 2017. The target directed ICE officers to arrest 8,400 undocumented immigrants by the end of the month.This leaked news comes on the heels of recent ICE statements that every undocumented immigrant should be worried about deportation and that ICE would arrest not only the undocumented immigrants that they were actually targeting, but also any immigrants who lacked status and happened to be in the area of the arrest.But Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida have caused ICE to postpone their planned massive immigration raids. The raids will probably take place later this year.”While we generally do not comment on future potential law enforcement actions, operational plans are subject to change based on a variety of factors,” ICE spokesman Sarah Rodriguez said in a statement. “Due to the current weather situation in Florida and other potentially impacted areas, along with the ongoing recovery in Texas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had already reviewed all upcoming operations and has adjusted accordingly. There is currently no coordinated nationwide operation planned at this time. The priority in the affected areas should remain focused on life-saving and life-sustaining activities.”Despite the fact that President Barack Obama deported a record number of undocumented immigrants from the U.S., ICE officials felt that he should have deported even greater numbers. The ICE union made their first ever presidential endorsement last year and supported the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric of then-candidate Donald Trump. Presumably, the union thought that a Trump presidency would mean greater job security for their members and even higher numbers of deportations.Immigrants ho lack status should remain worried about the ICE promise to boost deportations and to conduct mass raids. We will continue following this story and provide updates on our Hacking Law Practice, LLC, website.

Trump to End DACA, With a Six Month Window for Congress

Republican President Donald Trump has signaled his intention to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program this week.  According to news reports, Trump will terminate the program, but provide Congress with a six month window to pass legislation to cover the so-called DREAMers.

DACA was put into place by President Barack Obama after Republican hard-liners in the House of Representatives refused to allow legislation that would have given status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to reach the House floor.

The U.S. Senate had passed a bipartisan bill that appeared to be able to pass both houses of Congress.

DACA has allowed more than 800,000 undocumented young people to come out of the shadows by allowing them to halt their deportations and to obtain work authorization.  With valid work authorization, they could obtain drivers’ licenses, get a job, pay taxes and have proof of identity.

All that will apparently be coming to an end, unless Congress acts quickly.

When Trump ran for President and won the Republican nomination, he promised to end the program which many conservatives view as an abuse of executive power.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has argued that Congress — rather than the executive branch — is responsible for writing immigration law, helped persuade the president to terminate the program and kick the issue to Congress, the two sources told Politico.

Trump is expected to formally announce the end of DACA on September 5th, and the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of the president’s decision a few days ago. Ryan had said during a radio interview recently that he didn’t think the president should terminate DACA and that Congress should work on a statutory fix for the situation.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, one of Trump’s top conservative defenders in the Senate, also released a statement last week advocating for DACA’s survival.

“I’ve urged the president not to rescind DACA, an action that would further complicate a system in serious need of a permanent, legislative solution,” Hatch said. “Like the president, I’ve long advocated for tougher enforcement of our existing immigration laws. But we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own.”

Other Republicans in the Senate have also urged Congress to act.  Time will tell whether the Congress will pass meaningful legislation or not.

USCIS surprised by Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban

Donald Trump promised early on in his campaign to ban Muslims from entering the United States.  A week into President Trump’s term he signed an executive order that banned travel from many Muslim-majority countries.  Airport immigration checkpoints became complete chaos, people being turned away, held in detention centers, or not allowed to board flights home.

Recently released emails show that US Citizenship and Immigration Service, the agency tasked with processing immigration cases, was unaware that there was going to be a policy change, thus the USCIS staff was unprepared to handle the wide-ranging order.  Trump signed the ban on January 27, 2017.

Hours before, Andrew J. Davidson, a senior member of the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate at USCIS wrote to colleagues that he needed “immediate clarification” in the section of the order that barred people from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen from entering the US.  Donald W. Neufeld, who oversees the facilities that process USCIS application forms, needed “clarity” on which forms would be suspended.

An email on Saturday, January 28, the following morning after the ban was signed, from Daniel Renaud, the associate director of USCIS field operations told dozens of USCIS employees that “until additional guidance is received, you may not take final action on any petition or application where the applicant is a citizen or national” of the seven countries listed above.  Immigrants in the US who had waited years to become citizens were told that their oath ceremony was cancelled.

Later that same night, the temporary head of USCIS’s policy and strategy office, wrote on email asking if there was a nationwide stay of the refugee Executive Order because he saw a post on Twitter.

Sunday afternoon, Renaud explained to Field Offices that they can rule on N-400 and N-600 applications,applications for citizenship, and give oath ceremonies to approved candidates.

For more information, click here.

What Immigration Changes Can Trump Do All By Himself

Can Donald Trump change the US immigration system all by himself?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. At the time we’re shooting this video in August of 2017 there’s been a lot of noise, and circumstance, and news reporting about all the changes that Donald Trump he himself might bring into the immigration landscape, and we thought we would shoot this short video to dispel some myths and walk you through what he can and can’t do.

One of the things that’s been really interesting since Trump took office is that we’ve all gotten a lot of good lessons in the way that our civic system works and our system of checks and balances and that is the three branches of government, of course. We have the three branches of government which are the judiciary, the legislature and the executive branch, which is headed by President Trump. There have already been things over the course of his short administration that have impacted each of those branches of government and demonstrate the kinds of points that I want to make today.

The first thing to keep in mind is that there are three branches of the government and that the executive can only do so much. Now, one of the things that I often say about elections is that when a person becomes president, they put in people in charge of their departments, their administrators, their secretaries in the cabinet, and these people are making small tweaks to the law that you don’t see on a regular basis. They’re updating regulations. They’re changing things that most people don’t pay attention to.

Now, when it comes to immigration, we pay pretty close attention to changes in the regulations and the rules and of course any changes in the law. But, the executive’s job is to enforce the law. The executive can’t make new law and the executive can only direct the people beneath him or her to follow the law and to the extent that the executive tries to overstep the law and to do things that aren’t legal, that is going to be stopped and I’ll tell you how in a minute.

We saw an example of this with the so-called Muslim ban, President Trump’s attempt to keep people from seven predominantly Muslim countries and then six Muslim countries out of the United States while they supposedly figure things out with the immigration system and whether those countries were helping the United States vet those people to see if we should allow them into the country. You might recall that he released that program on a late Friday afternoon. And, by early the next week, there were lawsuits already on file challenging it, and we saw the three branches of government lay bare. The judiciary stopped President Trump and that executive order banning Muslims from those countries, so it’s important to keep in mind. I understand the fear, the consternation and the worry about what Trump can and can’t do, but there are checks on him. The courts will make sure that he’s following the law and that he’s following the constitution. As any good immigration student knows, that the constitution is a supreme law of the land and that the president has to follow the constitution and laws written by congress have to follow the constitution.

One point I really want to drive home is that the president can only do so much. If he tries to impose an executive order that is contrary to laws on the books or the congress overrides with a specific law, then it’s really a check on his power. He is not a king. He is not a dictator. He’s simply the president of the United States and he has to follow the law just like everybody else.

Another thing to keep in mind is that he does have a lot of flexibility though in how the law is interpreted. A lot of people criticize President Obama because he decided to halt deportations for young people who were brought here as minors, and he viewed the immigration deportation system as overly harsh on these young people, and so he directed the Department of Homeland Security to come up with enforcement priorities and to focus on deporting people who had either committed crimes or had been repeatedly entered in the United States illegally. That was all done by executive order. President Trump has not done away with that program yet. He could at any time. Congress has not acted and pass legislation to make that protection for those young people part of the law. The president could undo any executive order done by President Obama or any other prior president. Executive orders are not law. They have to follow the law, but they can definitely impact the lives of Americans as we can tell with the many people who have benefited from President Obama’s Deferred Action program.

The flexibility and the power that Trump has is, one, the fact that he can change executive orders and the other is his role as a mouthpiece and an advocate for change. Now, President Trump hasn’t been particularly successful in this realm. A lot of people are tuning him out. His popularity numbers are way low and so people in congress and around the country are not as afraid as they were as to the impact that he has.

Recently he and some Republican Congresspeople came forward and put forward legislation that would really roll back immigration, especially family based immigration. He really put a lot of fear in people. That’s the genesis of where this video is coming from is that we wanted to make sure that right now everybody knows that this only a proposed legislation. It hasn’t been put into law, that we’ll continue to monitor it. But, basically, that if he wants to roll back the way that immigration visas are given out and cut in half those numbers of immigrant visas, then he’s going to have to do it through congress. Pay attention to what’s going on. If you’re a US citizen, contact your senators or congress people and make sure that your voice is heard because this is really important. Again, the congress acting or not acting is another check on President Trump.

Overall, I want you to be confident. I want you to be educated. I want you to be paying attention to what’s going on. Understand that he’s not king and he can’t just snap his hands and make the changes to the immigration laws. That there’s a process and a procedure and that he has to follow the law. If he doesn’t follow the law, then people will take him to court. People like me and our firm and people like the ACLU and other great organizations will take him to court, hold his feet to the fire and make sure that he’s following the law. Don’t be afraid. Do not be afraid. There are people out here who will protect you, people who will help you.

If you have any questions about this, about the changes that Trump may or may not be able to put into place, be sure to give us a call at (314) 961-8200 or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. If you like this video, be sure to give it a like down below, share it with your friends and family and make sure to subscribe to us on all the social media channels, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook so that you get updated whenever we shoot videos like this one. Thanks a lot and have a great day.